Building Stamina

Saturday, I was one of over 10,000 skiers in the American Birkebeiner held in Cable & Hayward, WI.  My race, the Korteloppet, is a half marathon.

Each of the 23 kilometers was it’s own slice of life story.  A lot of thinking happens out on the trail.  It was a mental game to push myself through to the end.  The first few kilometers were plagued with “I’m so cold, Why did I sign up for this? Can I still feel my toes? Does that woman have frostbite on her face?” and then at kilometer number 5, I warmed up.  With comfortable toes and fingers, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the woods.  We had received 18 inches of heavy wet snow less than 24 hours prior.  The trees were laden with thick sweaters of white.  I was amazed that they did not shed this burdensome garb in the 20 mph winds.  The sunlight broke through the clouds and revealed a sparkly fresh winter landscape.  It was breathtaking in sight and temperature.  I was able to enjoy this crazy winter celebration.  The next few kilometers of thinking included, “This is great, I’m so glad I’m in it.”

Next came the stamina check. My legs began to tire and I thought of all the “building stamina” speeches I have given my students this year.  My ski training was like our reading. I had started out strong and had built stamina to ski easily for 3 or more hours. When I reached my goal, I had let off on the steam and skied shorter distances and quit early in the cold.  My class had worked through the “Why do we have to do this?” and built to self-sustained reading and writing for 40 minutes with joy.  I eased into interrupting this time because, “We were good at it.”  “We could handle the change to our schedule.”  After the new year, “our legs” were tired and we haven’t found our routine.  I could blame the crazy weeks broken by canceled days of school due to weather, but really my complacency is somewhat to blame.  We have not been practicing.

I saw the 21K sign and knew the end was near.  Looking into the tall pines, I resolved to take my stamina lesson to the classroom and “retrain” my students and rebuild our reading and writing stamina.  I will hold sacred our reading and writing time and keep distractions and interruptions at bay.  I look forward to March and building my own writing stamina as well as the literacy stamina in my classroom.

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Words Worth Saving

I recently heard a research report that stated being a parent doesn’t increase one’s overall happiness in life.  Being the mother of a teenager, there are days that feels accurate, but I don’t think the report includes all the small moments of joy.  They are sometimes hidden and we can miss them if not paying attention.  In the hurried world, I can miss them.

This past week my son called and left a voicemail for me asking me to pick up materials for a class project, due the next day. I was almost home. The message ended with a sincere, “I love you mom.”  Instead of being frustrated at the lack of planning on my son’s part, I hung onto the words at the end of the message.  Ready to hit delete, I stopped myself and know, there will be days ahead that I will want to be reminded of these words.  I feel so grateful they are spoken everyday in my home even on the difficult ones.  How fortunate to be able to save them.

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Slice of Life Challenge

I was so fortunate to be part of the TCRWP Writing institute this summer.  One of our writing assignments was to write about our life as a writer.  I was the student challenged to understand why I was so hesitant to put my voice out there and it came to me.  It was 5th grade.  My “Harriet the Spy” notebook had been taken from my desk and all my observations, opinions, and dreams had been read by T.L..  My heart was out there.  He never betrayed my thoughts to others, didn’t even share or show it to anyone else in the class.  This did not end in any ugly dramatic way it could have with a 5th grade girls notebook taken and read by a boy.  I wish I had that notebook.  Today I will begin an electronic version.

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